Thursday, February 26, 2015

Prayer Request Update Update

UPDATE (2/28): Nope, she's back in the ICU...

My dear MIL is out of the ICU and has started walking again!

This is wonderful news and it puts her back on a trajectory to come home soon.

Even better, when she is home, she will have a nurse to care for her and even prepare her meals while she recovers, which means she should be able to come home directly from the hospital instead of going to a nursing home for the next phase of recovery. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Gospel Dessert First Sunday

 The gospel was Mark's spare retelling of the Temptation in the Desert.  Mark doesn't actually specify what any of the temptations were, but we know the temptations around here...

The Temptation in the Dessert!

Everyone gets a slice of rather boring looking angel food cake and a slice of lushly frosted devil's food cake.

Which would you choose to eat?

Oob didn't want to eat the devil's food exactly, he just wanted a little taste of that fluffy pink frosting.  He didn't like it.  Maybe there is a difference between powdered sugar and baking soda?

To be fair, he knew it tasted bad! He had just seen another sibling try it, and found the reaction really funny (that sibling also thought it was funny!).  I don't think he expected it to taste that bad, though!

That sibling also know it would taste bad.  We've done this before!

The angel food cake was a little flat (a new recipe that didn't work perfectly), but tasty.

The moral of the story: the devil's way may look better, but it always leaves a bad taste in your mouth!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Poem of the Week

Lines: The cold earth slept below

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

The cold earth slept below;
         Above the cold sky shone;
                And all around,
                With a chilling sound,
From caves of ice and fields of snow
The breath of night like death did flow
                Beneath the sinking moon.

The wintry hedge was black;
         The green grass was not seen;
                The birds did rest
                On the bare thorn’s breast,
Whose roots, beside the pathway track,
Had bound their folds o’er many a crack
                Which the frost had made between.

Thine eyes glow’d in the glare
         Of the moon’s dying light;
                As a fen-fire’s beam
                On a sluggish stream
Gleams dimly—so the moon shone there,
And it yellow’d the strings of thy tangled hair,
                That shook in the wind of night.

The moon made thy lips pale, beloved;
         The wind made thy bosom chill;
                The night did shed
                On thy dear head
Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie
Where the bitter breath of the naked sky
                Might visit thee at will. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Prayer Request Update

While my dear MIL's surgery went well last Tuesday, she has had any number of small setbacks and complications along with some small signs of progress.

We've been taking turns being with her in the ICU for marathon stretches, but, as of Monday, we need to return to work or a more normal schedule (we being the Emperor, Pop, my wonderful sister in law and me).  

The usual trajectory for open heart surgery is release from the ICU after a day, and release from the hospital after 3-4 days.  It looks certain that she will be in the ICU at least through Monday. On the other hand her heart now seems to be willing to keep it's own rhythm, so we are seeing some progress.

Please pray for her, and for all of us supporting her on this journey!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In Which We Are Mostly Ready for Lent

 Ash? Check!
 Vine and Branches? Check!
 Walking with Jesus poster? Check!
Lent altar with sacrifice bean jar? Check!

And we've started the conversation about what practices (prayer, fasting, almsgiving) we would like to do for Lent.

I can tell it's going well since Choclo asked if we could celebrate Ash Wednesday with ice cream sandwiches...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

And PRESTO it's Lent!

Which I kind of knew and kinda forgot about.  Sort of like the 58 library books which were due last Saturday that I remembered today. Hm.

Fortunately I have years of Lent plan blog posts to recycle fall back on!

Here's one from 2012:


Lent with older kids gets easier in some ways.  When figuring out what to do for Lent, I ask them to finish this sentence: It wouldn't be Lent without...

The vine and the branches.  Basically it's a 7 foot tall vine cut out of brown paper with branches for each member of the family. We cut out tons of leaves and grapes and put them in a basket. Whenever anyone sees someone doing something good, they put a leaf or fruit on that person's branch. On Easter we decorate the vine with Easter lilies. We often put a picture of Jesus and the "vine and branches" quote on the vine.

Gospel desserts! No desserts or sweets except for Sunday, and the Sunday desserts are related to the Gospel of the day.  We have a lot of fun with this!  Also, we keep the cookie jar filled with pretzels.

Sacrifice bean jar. (Klenda's idea) One bean for each sacrifice and on Easter they are replaced with jelly beans to show that Jesus' sacrifice makes our sacrifices sweet.

My basic plan is to follow the classic Lent idea: Prayer , Fasting, Alms-giving.  The no sweets thing takes care of the fasting, and we'll decide together which charity to save for during Lent.We make a jar decorated with pictures related to the people for whom we are raising money.

My prayer idea is to try for daily Mass, and (because scripture , in my mind, is always tied to prayer as part of the ongoing conversation with God) the Lenten Cross.

The Lenten Cross  This is made of 40 squares of light purple paper, each the size of a post-it note. You do a scripture reading, have a kid draw a representation of the reading on a square, and then tape the square to a wall. By Easter the squares form a large cross representing Salvation History. We've done this several times and the kids loved it. You can find the readings and more info here.

That's about it, simply because that's about all I can keep track of for 40 days!    Except of course, tomorrow, we'll watch this:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mardi Gras Masks

 Between the surgery, praying for the surgery, shoveling, sledding, and some actual homeschooling/housekeeping/life, we managed to squeeze in a bit of Mardi Gras fun.

We didn't manage a King Cake.

We didn't even manage to do pancakes and sausage for dinner!

But we did do some fun masks and beads!

Prayer Request

Our dear Grammy is having open heart surgery this morning.  If you would pray for her, we'd really appreciate it!

Everything is complicated by our largest snow fall so far this winter...

We've been praying for snow, and we love snow, but it's making getting back and forth to the hospital a bit difficult!

UPDATE: The surgery was a success, and she's recovering in the ICU!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter Walk

 We've been down with a pretty nasty cold and fever in the past week, so we've been spending a lot of time snuggling, drinking tea, and watching documentaries like Secrets of the Castle, Brain Games, The Wonder of Animals, and Liberty's Kids (which, I suppose, isn't technically a documentary).

Since it is a rare and precious thing for all of us to get sick (and then recover) at the same time, and since that has not been happening this time around, we've also been going out on winter walks  with an ever changing cast.

Here we have Mxyl blasting examining a beech tree.

And here we have Oob pretending to be a mushroom.

No, really, that was what he told me he was doing.

If you look closely, you will see that he is amongus a humongous fungus, which, presumably gave him the mushroom idea, even though the rest is a shelf fungus and mushrooms are club fungi.

And we have Klenda, doing what Klenda does!


We enjoy the winter woods - no ticks or poison ivy, for one thing! But there's also a restrained beauty in the tracings of the bare trees.  For me, winter is a time to enjoy textures and details, and the sculptural elegance of the trees.

And we'll enjoy it while we can -look, the very first stirrings of Spring!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Poem of the Week

Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds

By William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bouncy Eggs

More eggs and a more complete explanation here.

Also, the white bouncy eggs are after one day in vinegar.  A two day soak gives you an egg that looks more like Zorg's, but it's larger and more "taut" because it's absorbed a lot more water.  I don't think it would bounce much, but it would give you a bigger explosion!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine Creatures

Here's an easy Valentine project: cute creatures made of candy clay.

Did I say easy?  The clay is just cream cheese mixed with powdered sugar!

We added blueberry flavor and lots of food coloring for fun, but I think the last time I did this, I just used cherry flavor and red food coloring.

Amie actually started this with Choclo and Oob while I was working with another kid, but Leena joined in, and other kids wandered in and out, too.

They raided the sprinkle box for fun embellishments. 

The regular sprinkles were good for hair.
 I had some little glasses and bow ties on hand.

I like lots of odd sprinkles, so it's a varied collection!

They ended up using the star shaped sprinkles for awards and badges for all their little creatures.

And they gave away most of their creations.

Tasty and fun!

Monday, February 9, 2015


 We've been going along with our dissections, and last week we did starfish.

The nice thing about starfish is that even fairly young kids can do the actual dissection with scissors (although probably not kid "paper" scissors).

Choclo built this tower and I gave it 5 stars!
Each arm has the same stuff - in fact each arm has all the major body systems, which is why each one can regenerate a new animal as long as it has a tiny bit of the central disc.

I find starfish interesting because they are an exception to the way I think about animals.  I tend to think of invertebrates as animals without skeletons, but here's an animal with no back bone, but a full endoskeleton!

Also, I think they are beautiful.

We had fun looking at our dissection specimen, and then looked for the structures on our dried starfish. 

Spiny skin! Tube feet! Eye spots!  Sieve plate (squirt spot)! All our different looking starfish have all the features.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Poem of the Week, plus Aristotle!

I've been reading Aristotle with Mxyl as he makes his way through his philosophy course. I had been listening to a course on the philosophy of ethics, and was encouraged to read Plato's Dialogues and Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. I did read Dialogues - food for another post - but didn't have a copy of Ethics... until Mxyl needed to read it for his class!

Aristotle is very interested in the question, "What does a good human do?"  He means it in the sense that, we know a good dancer is one who dances well, and a good writer writes well.  So what does a good human do well?  If you can find the answer to that, you know in a profound sense what it means to be truly human.

I am quite sure that this poet read Aristotle, and I wonder if this poem is partly his own answer to Aristotle's question.  At the end, I'll tell you the answer Aristotle found.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

By Gerard Manley Hopkins
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces. 

Aristotle's answer was virtue.  What makes us distinctly human is our ability to reflect and make moral choices, so the one who is best at making moral choices is best at being human.

Not far off from Hopkins, is it?  Although the poet has the advantage of Revelation.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Natural History

 So,what do you think Choclo and Oob are hiding from?

Could it be....

A giant T-rex?

Really they were cuddling up in the polar mammals section of Mammal Hall at the Natural History Museum, we didn't find the T-rex until much later.

But we sure were thrilled when we found it!

Dinosaur Hall closed last summer and will not reopen for three and a half years (Choclo and Oob will be 13 and 11!).  They are redesigning the space and installing their new T-rex skeleton.

We were definitely feeling the lack of dinosaur.

But they turned one of their temporary exhibit spaces into a small dino exhibit with their old T-rex skeleton (don't tell anyone, it's really only a cast, that's why they were so excited to get the new real skeleton).

Most of our museum time we spent in the Mammal Hall.  The longer I look at some of our large mammals (rhinos, hippos, tapirs), the weirder they really are, and the closer they look to those Ice Age mammal oddities.

Choclo and Oob were enchanted by the pangolins, and then decided they would like to have pet dik diks (deer the size of dogs with improbably tiny feet).

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Poem of the Week

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
William Carlos Williams, 1883 - 1963